WOOLWORTHS have launched a hotline for suppliers to report complaints about trading terms today.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council said the Speak Up hotline which is delivered by Deloitte was the company acknowledging there were problems facing the food and grocery manufacturers and suppliers.
In the council's statement it said issues, which can be reported anonymously, include fraud, corruption, threatening behaviour, people or product safety risks, theft, conflict of interest, bullying and harassment to the hotline.
AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell said industry welcomed Woolworths' move to strengthen its complaint protocols.
"It's encouraging that Woolworths has taken up the concerns of food and grocery manufacturers by acknowledging there are real problems facing suppliers, brought about by the fact that Australia and New Zealand have the highest levels of supermarket concentration in the world, creating a huge power imbalance between the major retailers and suppliers," Ms Carnell said.
"By establishing this new complaints mechanism, Woolworths has acknowledged that many suppliers are not comfortable bringing their concerns directly to the company for fear it may impact on their ongoing trading relationship.
"As the two major supermarkets have nearly 80 per cent of the market, suppliers can’t afford to do anything that may jeopardise sales to these retail giants.
"Pending the establishment of a Supermarket Ombudsman, we urge Coles to follow Woolworths' example and set up a similar system."
AFGC wants the Federal Government to establish a regulated Supermarket Fair Trading Code of Conduct enforced by a Supermarket Ombudsman to create a more level playing field for primary producers and manufacturers in their dealings with Coles and Woolworths.
Woolworths has been contacted for a comment.